Will the Earth Stop Rotating Someday?

The earth will not actually stop spinning, but its rotation will slow consideably over the eons.

The earth is gravitationally lumpy. Red shows dense points and blue show weaker points. These variations act as "handles" for the moon and sun to alter the rotation.
The earth is gravitationally lumpy. Red shows dense points and blue show weaker points. These variations act as "handles" for the moon and sun to alter the rotation.
In the round, this is what one of the dense gravity "handles" looks like.
In the round, this is what one of the dense gravity "handles" looks like.
Mars looks different from the earth, but it lacks a large moon and is more distant from the sun. Mars is less massive and apparently geologically frozen, thus appears more even.
Mars looks different from the earth, but it lacks a large moon and is more distant from the sun. Mars is less massive and apparently geologically frozen, thus appears more even.
Mercury is already tidally locked to the sun, thus its period of rotation is close to its year.
Mercury is already tidally locked to the sun, thus its period of rotation is close to its year.
Mercury is much closer to the sun, so the solar disk looms large in its sky. Someday, the sun will loom large in the sky of the earth.
Mercury is much closer to the sun, so the solar disk looms large in its sky. Someday, the sun will loom large in the sky of the earth.

The Earth will someday become tidally locked to the sun.

The Earth will never fully stop rotating, but it will eventually become tidally locked to the sun, which means that one side will be in constant daylight and the opposite side in eternal darkness. That will likely occur when the sun expands before the helium flash. That is still off by some 4 to 5 billion years. In the mean time, a great deal else will occur that will profoundly impact the earth. In that distant era, the solar system will be completely different. The sun will be a bloated red giant. Mercury and Venus will have become absorbed by the swollen sun. The Earth will be almost skimming the sun's surface. The moon will have become an independent planet in orbit around the sun if it too has not been absorbed. The Earth will be scorched, hot, likely molten and without oceans. The dark side will be frigid and retaining scant amounts of ice. The period of rotation will match the orbital period around the sun as earth passes around it hugging close to the outer gaseous envelope. Streamers of solar material jetting out from the sun will provide periodic weak light to the dark side. How will it get this way?


The Earth is a lumpy body gravitationally speaking. That fact emerged in the early days of the American Space program when satellite tracking was lost over the Indian Ocean. Later studies showed that the Earth was uneven and lumpy. That lumpiness derives from the fact of the Earth is a geologically active place with continental drift, mountain building, subduction, volcanism and earthquakes. The current rotation creates an equatorial bulge that is several miles larger from one point of the equator to the opposite point as opposed to the measure from pole to pole. These facts alone create a relationship with the moon that is gradually being propelled away from the Earth, while the Earth's rotation slows as a result. Both events are unfolding very gradually, so the disappearance of the moon and the Earth's stopped rotation will take billions of years.


There exists a curious relationship between the moon and the Earth. The moon receives energy from the Earth because the Earth is rotating faster than the moon can orbit the Earth. The oceans that responds with tides, actually pulls on the moon along with the Earth's gravitational bulge, causing it to speed up in a kind of sling shot fashion. This increases the moon's orbit by the exchange of Earth's angular momentum to the moon's linear momentum. The ultimate result is that the moon will drift past the Lagrange (L-1) point between the Earth and the Sun. When that occurs, the Earth's day will be much longer, the sun much brighter and the moon will wander into a solar orbit independent of Earth.


The Earth will still be rotating though, but in a moonless sky with a much brighter and bigger sun. The oceans, so much a part of our life today, will vanish, boiled off into space due to a hotter sun. Life will vanish from Earth, except for the thermophiles as it becomes a hot desert hell planet. As the sun continues to bloat, the unevenness that is part of the Earth will cause it to become tidally locked to the sun. This recapitulates the reality of today's Earth-moon system where the moon is tidally locked to the Earth, showing only one side to us. The Earth will end up in a similar relationship to the sun as Mercury is now; one side baked near melting point, the other side frozen in deep cold. This is not an actual stopping of rotation, only apparent in relation to the sun. The day will in actuality be the same length as the year in relation to the stars. Volcanism and earthquakes will rack the place just as the moon Io near Jupiter experiences. Earth will be far different then than it is now.


As the sun bloats and sheds material into an expanding nebula, it will engulf the Earth. The loss of the sun's mass means that the Earth will drift further away along with all the other planets. The Earth will eventually wind up where the asteroid belt is now. The rotation will slow further as the length of the year exceeds that of of Mars' today. In the end, the sun will collapse into a white dwarf. The Earth will remain tidally locked as it was set that way be the former expanded sun. The year will be almost three times as long and then Earth will become a frigid wasteland, dimly lit by a tiny sun on its sun facing side.


Will this happen for sure? Andromeda is heading our way and both it and our galaxy will be disrupted. There is a chance that the solar system will be torn asunder long before the Earth "stops rotating". The Earth may well end up as a rogue planet flung into deep space between the stars as an alternate fate. This event is so remote, that we need not concern ourselves with it. It is entirely possible, that humanity will be extinct long before then.


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Comments 10 comments

Aneesh3 profile image

Aneesh3 6 years ago from India

Interesting hub.


kathryn1000 profile image

kathryn1000 6 years ago from London

A really good hub.


billrobinson profile image

billrobinson 6 years ago from CA, USA

Interesting to read. Keep posting. Thanks.


Shahid Bukhari profile image

Shahid Bukhari 5 years ago from My Awareness in Being.

Yes ... The world will Cease to Rotate ... When the Particulate compositors Cease to Exist, by losing their Bonds, hence, Form ...

The earth will Cease to Exist, thus, cease to Rotate ... When Elemental Particles ... Composing the Earth, and the Universe, will Cease to Retain ... their Electronmagnetic Force, which holds their structures in the State of Form.

Because, these Elemental Forms, Collectivelly Generate the Earths Perfect Electromagnetism, which Rotates the Earth's Two Hemisphers in the opposite Direction, thus, upon a common Axis.


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

I think I grasp what you are saying and I would have to agree if for some reason the interaction of the Planck False Vacuum on our cosmos were to cease. The moment that happens, everything would instantly dissolve faster than we could sense. The primordial void would once again be the norm and this is no void with which we have anything to compare or comprehend; no space, no time, not even any nothing.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

It looks like no matter how we look at things, we are ultimately doomed.

Thanks for a brilliantly vibrant, and well explained outline of our distant future.


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

It is just possible that long before then, we will have mastered deep space travel. There are those out there that tell us that we have already begun to develop the technology to accomplish such things. I have some hubs that suggest that UFOs are home grown and not reverse engineered alien technology. There are also hubs and websites that provide information on how it works and how to build one based on more than 6,000 US patents on the art. The earth is clearly only a temporary dwelling place as the constant heating up of the sun alone will begin to really cook things between 300 to 500 million years from now. Life, except for extremophiles will by then be gone from earth. The earth will still be rotating in those days.


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 5 years ago

Hello Syzygyastro. Do you think we will master traveling deep space when we stop funding the space programs? How can we move the entire population of the earth to another solar system or planet compatible for life? What is your master plan? Debby P.S. Rated up.


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

We cannot move the entire population of the earth to another planet. It is just not feasible at this time. However, we can move a small number of people to an extrasolar planet once we find a suitable candidate. Even this will be a formidable task due to the distances and hazards involved. At this time, we would need a self contained colony in something the size of a hollowed asteroid like Eros or some other large metallic earth crosser. The trip even at a fraction of the speed of light with current and foreseeable technology. would take many generations. As for no funding for space programs, the private sector is currently working on space tourism to fund deeper missions, The big draw to space will be like that on earth in the past. That would be for resources and mineral wealth. China and Japan both have active space programs and will continue to run the program for now. The US is currently involved in robot missions and the lesser known weaponization of space.


ProfRockhill 3 years ago

Good hub, terrible ending... Humanity will be extinct? How hopeless a belief... By the time this happens surely we will have developed the capability of living in space or colonizing other objects.

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